2024 NBA Play-In Tournament Betting Tips & Strategies

The NBA season is advancing to a conclusion. Before the playoffs start, we’ll be treated to the NBA Play-In Tournament, which has established itself as a unique spectacle in major team sports.

Eight teams, four in each conference, will compete for the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in a format where one loss could mean the sudden end to playoff hopes.

Betting on the NBA can be challenging (but fun) in the regular season. Wagering on pro basketball’s play-in tournament is thrilling too, but there are special considerations the sharp bettor should keep in mind as they look at the three-game tournament in each conference this spring.

Here are our NBA Play-In Tournament betting tips and strategies.

Related Pages: Best NBA Betting Apps | Best NBA Betting Promotions & Bonus Offers

NBA Play-In Tournament History

The genesis of the Play-In concept was the “bubble” used during the 2019-20 NBA season due to COVID. Because teams were playing far fewer games than the normal 82-game schedule, the league decided that a play-in game would be used if there was a tight gap between the No. 8 seed in either conference and the next team in the standings. The margin was set for at least 4 games.

In the Eastern Conference, this was not necessary, but in the Western Conference, the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies were one game apart. As a result, the Grizzlies played and defeated Portland in the first-ever play-in game.

The 2019-20 season was the only time the single-game play-in was used based on standings. The following year, the NBA adopted a format based on the Page-McIntyre system. It requires three games to determine two playoff spots. In this case, the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in each conference are decided by the play-in format. The system was first used for the 2020-21 season and has remained unchanged.

NBA Play-In Tournament Previous Results

2020No series played under rules of that time.Portland (8) defeated Memphis (9)
2021Boston (7) defeated Washington (8) ... Indiana (9) defeated Charlotte (10) ... Washington advanced by defeating Indiana.LA Lakers (7) defeated Golden State (8) ... Memphis (9) advanced by defeating San Antonio (10) and Golden State.
2022Brooklyn (7) defeated Cleveland (8) ... Atlanta (9) advanced by defeating Charlotte (10) and Cleveland.Minnesota (7) defeated LA Clippers (8) ... New Orleans (9) advanced by defeating San Antonio (10) and LA Clippers.
2023Atlanta (8) defeated Miami (7) ... Chicago (10) defeated Toronto (9), but lost to Miami, who advanced.LA Lakers (7) defeated Minnesota (8) ... Oklahoma City (10) defeated New Orleans (9), but lost to Minnesota, who advanced.

Four teams that have won at least 44 games have appeared in the play-in tournament, and three have advanced. That’s the most games a team has won in the regular season and still been forced to earn an NBA Playoff spot in the play-in tourney.

NBA Play-In Tournament Trends

These seeding trends are for the three seasons (2021-23) when the league has used the current format.

  • The highest seed (No. 7) is 6-1.
  • The lowest seed (No. 10) is 2-6 and has never advanced to the NBA Playoffs.
  • The No. 8 seed is 3-8 and has only defeated the No. 7 once in the automatic play-in game. The No. 8 seed has advanced to the NBA Playoffs three times and failed to do so three times.
  • The No. 9 seed is 7-3, advancing three times and failing to advance three times.

NBA Play-In Tournament: Teams with Best Record

  • Atlanta is 3-0 in the play-in tournament, and the Lakers are 2-0, the only teams to play multiple games and be undefeated.
  • Of the 7 teams to appear in the NBA Play-In Tournament more than once, only Charlotte and San Antonio are winless (0-2).
  • Three teams (Atlanta, Lakers, and Minnesota) have advanced two times out of the play-in tourney.
  • The 2021-22 New Orleans Pelicans (36-46) have the worst record for a team that advanced out of the play-in tournament.
  • Three teams with losing records have emerged from the NBA Play-In Tournament to make the playoffs: Bulls in 2023; Pelicans in 2022; and Wizards in 2021.

NBA Play-In Tournament Betting Tips and Strategies

Ride the No. 7 Seed

So far, the No. 7 seed has never failed to advance to the NBA Playoffs. Only once (Miami in 2023) has the No. 7 been forced to play a second game to grab their playoff spot. Playing at home in the No. 7 seed game certainly helps, which brings us to…

Bet the Home Team

The home team is 12-6 in the three years of the current NBA Play-In Tournament format. That includes a 5-1 record by the No. 7 seed in the No. 7 seed game.

The No. 9 seed is 4-2 in their matchups against the No. 10 seed.

The No. 9 Seed Can Be Your Upset Special

The No. 9 seed is 3-1 in the No. 8 seed game (played against either the No. 8 or No. 7 seed) as a win-or-go-home contest. There may be a momentum factor here (if you believe in the concept of momentum), as the No. 9 has come off a win, while they are facing a team coming off a loss in the No. 8 seed game.

More Wins = Better Chance to Advance

It makes sense that the teams with the better regular season records would fare better in the NBA Play-In Tournament. But based on the three years of the current format (2021-23), the more wins the No. 7 or No. 8 seeds have, the more likely they will advance.

The magic number seems to be 44 wins. Once a team has that many wins in the NBA regular season, and if they are still required to battle in the play-in tournament, they usually advance. Teams with a minimum of 44 wins are 3-1 at advancing out of the play-in tournament.

For the 2023-24 NBA season, we may see as many as five teams win 44+ games and still have to appear in the NBA Play-In Tournament.


About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a veteran writer and contributor for Gaming Today. He has written three books, including The Ballplayers: Baseball’s Greatest Players Remembered, Ranked, and Revealed, which will be released in 2024. Holmes has previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball.

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